This morning I want to talk about a pretty touchy subject within the church and therefore I am going to back up my position with a lot of scripture. But, I believe this issue needs to be addressed no matter now touchy it is because there are Christian women who ponder questions out of the distress within their lives and their hearts, and these scriptures bring answers – firm answers – to those open queries.
The touchy subject I want to address this morning is the situation of a believing wife and an actively sinning husband, believing or unbelieving. And, first I want to address the responsibility of the church in this situation and then I am going to address the responsibility of the wife.
If a husband is actively sinning, knowing his actions are not good but choosing to do them anyways, and a member of a church, the church has the responsibility to call him out on his sinful ways. If then he refuses to admit what he is doing and actively seek help, then after the second confrontation the church is to reject him. See how the two scriptures from Titus confirm those statements:
“For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers...To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Titus 1:10, 15,16
But what about the wife? Is she to reject her husband also? No, instead the wife is to play a more difficult and Christ-like role – she is to sanctify the husband within the marriage by committing to stay in the marriage if her husband should so choose to stay. Now, that doesn't mean if your husband is beating you that you stay in the same house with him and allow yourself to be repetitively beat, but it does imply that as a wife you are to continue to call this man your husband and do things on your end that work towards reconciliation with the issues he is facing. For the sake of your children the union of one mom and one dad is by far the best for them because then attachment issues do not come into factor and make the child even more so question their self-worth - that is the work toward reunification you are to hold onto. But, if the husband does decide to leave the marriage on his own decision then God says He will not condemn the wife in the husband's leaving. Either way, God says your actions in following His commands are to bring His peace into your life. (All of this can be backed up in the following verses from 1 Corinthians 7:12-16)
“But to the rest I, not the Lord, say:...a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife...; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband?...”
The final subject in this area that I want to address is the area of authority. What happens if a husband gives up his authority over the wife because his life is so consumed by his sinful habits? If the wife left to sit and wait for him to give her direction on how to raise the children, how to attend to matters at home, which church to attend, and how to handle the family finances? No, if the husband has become ambivalent in these or any other area then I feel the wife needs to see God as her interim husband and make decisions with Him and by him, making an oath before the Lord to do the things He sets before her. In making that oath she still has the responsibility of answering to her husband, as described below in Numbers 30, but then the oath alone is canceled by him and if canceled after confirmed then the guilt of the canceled oath falls on the decision of the husband and not on the obedience of the wife to let go of the confirmed oath. See what I mean:
“If she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an agreement with an oath, and her husband heard it, and made no response to her and did not overrule her, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard them, then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and the Lord will release her. Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void. Now if her husband makes no response whatever to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all the agreements that bind her; he confirms them, because he made no response to her on the day that he heard them. But if he does make them void after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.” Numbers 30:10-15
There are far too many hurting women within the church who have no idea how to proceed in their marriages because there are few too many churches who are willing to confront the husbands in these marriages on their sinful behavior, and biblically they are commanded to do so. If you are finding yourself in a situation where hope is hard to find because of your husband's sinful behavior, pray and ask God to direct you along the lines of the truth I have laid out above and for a church family (if you don't already have one) that will stand at your side as a sister in Christ to bring as much healing to your marriage and your family as your husband allows.
Being strong in a difficult situation has nothing to do with your own strength or endurance. Rather, it all has to do with the strength you can draw from the Lord. So, look up and keep going, following the Lord every step of the way and He will not only direct your path but also give you the ability to take each step with the power of the risen Christ who is able to protect you from all harm, heal every broken heart, and strengthen every bended knee.